After walking across the park from a lovely lunch with my friend, Joan Easton, I popped into to 67 Wines and Spirits to pick up something for tomorrow's Thanksgiving dinner at Pauline and Conrad's. (1998 Chateau Pichon Longueville, Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac, should be very nice, and I couldn't resist the Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage. Who could, really?)
Walking out the store, I ran into Karathine Goeldner (It's become a pleasant, daily occurance . . . ), we exchanged a quick kiss for a happy Thanksgiving. No more than a few steps later, I ran into Bryn Terfel. I had attended the performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah Monday evening, with the Collegiate Chorale, Orchestra of St. Luke's, and soloists, including Mr. Terfel, conducted by Robert Bass in Carnegie Hall.
Terfel's performance of the Biblical prophet, like every one I've ever heard from him, left an indelible mark and desire for more. He brings to each role he undertakes a creative capacity larger than the task at hand. Even when faced with Verdi's (and Shakespeare's) Falstaff, there are no limits visible on the horizon of his work. Every risk, every opportunity, is met with generosity and artistry. Whether at the loudest or softest dynamic, the power and clarity of Terfel's words and music carried throughout the hall. (I should know, I was in the balcony.) He is a performing artist truly equal in creative power to our great composers.
"Beautiful performance Monday night, Mr. Terfel," I held out my hand. I identified a friend we have in common so I wouldn't seem like a run-of-the-mill-Upper-West-Side opera stalker. He sized me up and seemed unafraid, so we talked about Monday's concert Robert Bass, who was conducting for the first time in Carnegie Hall with his new heart. (Click here for an article in the Times about his recent medical trials and triumphs.) Terfel said what an extraordinary experience it was to sing this work with Robert Bass after all he had gone through. "All those uplifting words of Elijah, I sang them right to Bob."
The personal became the corporate, and the corporal transcended its usual bounds. I felt immense uplift after that concert. I know I am not alone, and I think I know why.